Whether Summer or Winter, Banff is Art.
Our latest art expedition took us on an awe-inspiring journey through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, from British Columbia to Alberta. This route has become a familiar one over the years as we transported artwork to galleries, preserved the landscapes through photography and videos for future paintings, and cherished moments spent with collectors, galleries, artist friends, and family.
Our most recent visit to Banff occurred in November 2022 when I spent two weeks at the Thom Studio within the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, immersed in the creation of art. That particular journey was accompanied by bone-chilling temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius, blanketing the region in pristine snow and adorning lakes with a shimmering layer of ice. It was a time for donning toques and parkas, and walking carefully on the iced-over lakes. For this summer adventure we donned out baseball hats and hiking sneakers and found ourselves capturing the vastness of the skies and the tranquil beauty of the dry landscapes, adorned with hues of green ranging from emerald to lime, complemented by the earthy tones of stone and clay. Against this backdrop, the fiery red canoes stood out vividly on the vermillion lakes, contrasting with the aqua and turquoise glacial waters, while the emerald forests completed the mesmerizing panorama.
Our presence in Banff this time served two purposes. Firstly, we delivered a collection of paintings featuring polar bears traversing Banff National Park to my trusted Banff art dealer, Willock & Sax Gallery. These seven new small-scale paintings conveyed captivating visual narratives of the Polar Bear King and his expeditions in Banff. Secondly, we joined in the celebration of the Art in Nature Trail, an awe-inspiring outdoor art gallery displaying installations along the trail leading from the Whyte Museum to the Bow Falls, alongside the Bow River. This trail, open from July 1st to September 30th, adds its unique artistic touch to the Banff Lake Louise collection.
While in town, we explored the diverse range of galleries Banff has to offer. Aside from Willock & Sax Gallery, which has been a constant source of beautiful artworks, I delighted in the artistic treasures found at Carter-Ryan Gallery, Canada House Gallery, Mountain Galleries, and the Whyte Museum.
For our stay, we chose to book accommodations at the Banff Centre, a place that feels like a serene home surrounded by art and nature at every turn. A short hike down the mountain leads you into the heart of the bustling town, especially during one of the busiest weekends of the year. Banff Avenue, exclusively for pedestrians, presents the perfect opportunity to capture an exquisite photo of Cascade Mountain from the center of the street.
On Canada Day, we decided to rise early and ascend Sulphur Mountain via the Banff Gondola. The views from the peak were nothing short of spectacular, providing a fresh perspective on the town and the surrounding mountain ranges. The ever-changing clouds and the play of filtered light created captivating displays, casting golden highlights against the lush emerald green and various shades of clay. We embarked on a hike from the gondola station to the cosmic ray tower before the rest of the world arrived for their Canada Day adventures. From there, we made our way back to Lake Minnewanka, which was noticeably less crowded during the winter season. We also revisited Vermilion Lakes, now fully thawed and bustling with kayaks and canoes. The sight of Mount Rundle reflected in the swamp grass-lined lakes below was truly breathtaking.
As we made our way uphill to the Banff Centre, the tranquil hike offered a welcome respite from the crowds and noise of Canada Day. Banff’s summer beauty is equally enchanting, with a different atmosphere permeating the air. It remains one of the most picturesque places in Canada, as evidenced by the presence of stag deer and an elk, gracefully welcoming us home for the night. Banff is undeniably nature’s masterpiece, an art form in itself. It comes as no surprise that it continues to inspire countless artists, photographers, writers, musicians, and adventure seekers.
Just like my previous visit in November, this experience will continue to fuel my future paintings. Banff, you never cease to captivate us with the abundance of inspiration you offer.